Italian wine dinner part 1

Last weekend my wife and I were invited by friends to an Italian wine dinner. Usually our wine dinners tend to be focused on a single wine or a single region. You can read about our Brunello di Montalcino wine dinner here. I’ve also blogged about a Montepulciano di Abruzzo dinner. It was the birthday party of a good friend of mine and since most of his friends enjoy a good glass of wine he decided to uncork some of his Italian gems. Some people brought wine, too that we opened right away. Since we were around 30 people we went through a lot of wines 🙂

We started with two white wines from St Michael Eppan. Jack, the host, travelled to South Tyrol a few months ago and after visiting the winery he took back a few bottles of 2011 Sanct Valentin Gewurztraminer and some 2010 Sanct Valentin Pinot Bianco. After seeing the bottles I immediately thought about Stefano from Flora’s Table who wrote about the Pinot Grigio from St. Michael Eppan. Sadly I did not get to try that one. His wine review for the Pinot Grigio is worth reading.
The Sanct Valentin Gewurztraminer aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. Bright yellow color, intense nose with aromas of peppers, cloves and flowers. The palate was spicy with a lingering finish. Not my type of wine but worth trying. Average price on wine searcher: $32
I liked the Pinot Bianco from Sanct Valentin a lot more but of course Gewrztraminer is one of the most important grapes for wine production in South Tyrol. Nevertheless, I found the bouquet of the Pinot Bianco to be much more interesting with aromas of green apples, melons, hints of pear, butter and vanilla.


It has to be said that  50% of the wine aged in small barriques and 50% in in large oak casks. The palate convinced me with a good structure, soft oak notes and and a lingering finish. Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan is an excellent white wine. Average price on wine searcher: $32

We continued with a white wine came from the Marche. We had a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore (I really hate long wine names) from Pievalta which is owned by Barone Pizzini, a winery from Lombardy. Lime, pear, pineapple on the palate. Full-bodied with exotic fruit on the palate. Persistently long finish. The wine won the 3 bicchieri gambero rosso award in 2012. Average price on wine searcher: $20 Excellent PQ ratio!

The last white wine was a Sicilian Chardonnay from Planeta (2010 vintage). It was one of two wines that I brought to the dinner. This was only the second time that I had this wine. The first time I really liked it.

100% Chardonnay that aged in small oak barrels. Golden yellow color. Apricots, almonds, butter, bananas on the nose. Loved it. Well-balanced oak and fruit notes. I tasted some mango, too! Long aftertaste. The wine won the 3 bicchieri gambero rosso award, Average price on wine searcher: $36 I have to thank Julian, for this recommendation. Great wine. If you don’t know his blog then make sure to check it out.

My favorite white wine was the Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan but the Planeta Chardonnay was fantastic as well. The next post will focus on the red wines that we tasted. The list includes wines from Abruzzo, Tuscany and Piedmont. Also if you noticed I was busy over the last week so I didn’t post anything. But I’ll try to post more regularly again..


Montenisa ‘Brut’ – Italy

I’ve been quite busy over the last week (hence there was no “wine readings” last week) but now I have more time for blogging.

Regulars already know that I love Franciacorta sparkling wines. Only recently I had a Montenisa NV ‘Brut’ Franciacorta DOCG. The wine retails for around $28. Surprisingly, Montenisa is a brand of the Tuscan winery Marchesi Antinori (famous for Tignanello).

It’s produced with Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and small amounts of Pinot Nero, I didn’t know that they use Pinot Nero in Italy for sparkling wine production. Always though that it was just used for Champagne. Montenisa ‘Brut’ aged for 30 months in French oak. The wine is considered as the flagship sparkling wine of Montenisa.

The wine has a golden yellow color. The perlage lasted only for a short time. On the nose aromas of tropical fruit, minerals, almonds, pear and flowers.

On the palate dry with lots of fruit. Stoney minerality. Rather short after taste.

This “Champagne-like” sparkling wine has clearly its own character. It was alright but not mind-blowing. If you get a chance to try it then you might as well go for it but it’s nothing too special and for almost $30 there are better Franciacorta available. Since I love Franciacorta I was quite happy to try it though.

My first Super Tuscan experience: 2008 Tenuta San Guido ‘Sassicaia’ – Italy

Alright after reading an article about the history of Super Tuscan on Vino in Love I got curious about Sassicaia. I could be wrong, but I believe that the Sassicaia (2006 vintage) from Tenuta San Guido was my very first Super Tuscan.

Sassicaia is one of the most prestigious wines in the world. According to wine-searcher, Sassicaia is the #14th most popular wine in the world. I was looking for a good vintage and according to many sources 2008 is supposed to be the best vintage since the legendary 1988.  The wine is a blend of Bordeaux-style grapes (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc) and it aged for 24 months in French oak.

Average price for 2008 Sassicaia in the US: $198. I was able to buy the wine online at for $169
Ratings: 97 JS 97 WE 96 WS 96 WA
Further more: 3/3 ‘biccheri’ by the 2012 Gambero Rosso (Italian wine book)

sassicaia 2008

I invited a few friends over and we all were very excited. We decanted the wine for 2 or 3 hours or so.

Since I wanted all of the wine to be at its best I decided to not try the wine before decanting it. That turned out to be a major mistake.

After taking a sip, I noticed that “something” was wrong. The wine was aweful. It tasted bitter. I should have concluded by the brick-red color that the win oxidized. You can’t imagine how sad I was. I just found out that I spent almost $170 on an undrinkable, alcoholic beverage. I called the Sokolin customer support and they said there was nothing they could do – no return – nothing. They said there is no insurance for corked/oxidized wine. A big warning: Don’t buy wine from Sokolin. I had good experiences in the past with them but after having wasted $170 on this oxidized wine. I cannot believe that they do this. Actually I’m shocked.

I will stop my rant now but I thought I will share my sad experience with you. That said I want to tell you that the evening still ended with a good wine. In my cellar I found a Rioja which turned out fine. I will write about that wine in the next days.

Have you had similar experiences? If so please share them with me. Nevertheless, I want to thank Julian from Vino in Love for his Super Tuscan post. Without it I would have never even considered trying one. I hope my next Super Tuscan will be better – certainly it won’t be another Sassicaia . . .

Wine Readings #2

I have a few interesting readings for you that I stumbled over this week.

Interesting read of the week

  1. Robert Parker on the Past, Present and Future of Wine – Food & Wine
    Very good article about the life of Robert Parker
  2. Why Chardonnay is back in Fashion – Telegraph
    If you want to know why Chardonnay is booming again then this article is for you.

Blind tasting of the week

  1. Perfect Winter Fare – Shiraz and Cassoulet – Talk A Vino
    You like blind tasttings? So does Talk A Vino. Read about his Shiraz blind tasting experience.

Food matching of te week

  1. 5 Tips to Perfect Food and Wine Pairings – Wine Folly. 

There wasn’t that much going on this week and I also spent a few days out of town were I was unable to look fur interesting readings therefore all I have for you today are these four articles. If you haven’t red them already then make sure to check them out.


Montepulciano di Abruzzo – Wine Tasting Dinner

Does that title sound familiar to you? As a regular reader of this blog it should. Before leaving for my last business trip my wife and I were invited to a wine tasting dinner over at a friend’s house. Last time we were having a Brunello di Montalcino tasting at my place – this time the topic was Montepulciano di Abruzzo. Everybody was supposed to bring a bottle of wine and a decanter but for me that didn’t work out very well. You ask why? I got confused with Montepulciano di Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!! So shame on me for bringing a Tuscan wine over to the dinner. I don’t know why Italians had to give two different wines very similar names! Fortunatly, the host has a huge wine cellar which includes some of the best Montepulciano di Abruzzo so it was no problem at all.

Last time we did this, we tasted the wines blind but this time we decided not to since it didn’t work out too well last time. All wines were decanted for more than two hours. For me all of these wines were new. I had never tasted any of them before.

Evening started with a 2007 Illuminati ‘Pieluni’ – Montepulciano di Abruzzo di Colline Teramene DOCG Riserva. One thing I dislike about Italian (and German!) wines are the unpronounceable, long wine names.
Intense ruby red color. Fruity nose with plums, raspberry, cinnamon, tobacco and vanilla. On the palate rather tannic. Rich wine with a good structure. Elegant, long finish.
Retail price: $55

We moved on to a  2004 Gianni Masciaerelli Montepulciano ‘Villa Gemma’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC Riserva. Dark purple color. Aromas of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry blackcurrant, and licorice. Dry on the palate with a slight oak touch. Extremely well-balanced. Full bodied and long aftertaste.
Retail price: $85

The next two wines were provided by the host and both were produced by Il Feuduccio di Santa Maria di Orsonia (these long names are starting to frustrate me). Both wines were labeled Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. The first of the two was called ‘Feuduccio’ (2006 vintage). Since fellow blogger Vino in Love reviewed this wine, too and allowed me to use his tasting notes I’ll just skip this wine. Of course, if  would disagree with his notes (which I don’t) I wouldn’t use them.
Retail price: $35

The wine had a deep, ruby red color. ‘Feuduccio had a bouquet of dark ripe cherries, rasins, caramel, tobacco, licorice, and raspberry. On the palate, the wine was smooth, dry and a little bit fruity. Ver harmonic and complex. The wine had a big body and I tastec herry again. ‘Feuduccio had some mineralic notes, too. The finish was persistently long.”

The second wine from Il Feuduccio di Santa Maria di Orsonia was called ‘Margae’ (2001 vintage). It’s supposed to be better than the ‘Feuduccio’. Dark purple color. Strong tobacco aromas followed by blackcurrant, caramelized fruit, and vanilla. For my personal taste, the palate was, too dry and mixed with rather strong tannins this didn’t work out very well for me. I don’t find this wine to be well-balanced at all. The only highlight was an elegant, medium-long aftertaste.
Retail price: $45

The last wine was a 2000 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. Dark purple color, almost black in the glass. Intense nose with aromas of licorice, raspberry, ripe cherry, blackcurrant, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, blueberry, and chocolate. Silky tannins, full-bodied, well-structured. Fruity but short finish. I think the wine was passed its peek. Retail price: $120.

Now the question arises which wine was my favorite? The 2004 Gianni Masciaerelli Montepulciano ‘Villa Gemma’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC Riserva came in first place, followed by 2006 Il Feuduccio di Santarmia di Onoria ‘Feuduccio’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. The ‘Feuduccio’ had an excellent price-quality ratio but the ‘Villa Gemma’ was just overwhelmingly good!

The ‘Margae’ disappointed me a little bit. The others were not bad either. Don’t get me wrong, every wine we tried was good but some were just a little bit better than others.

Also please note that I used bottle labels from wine-searcher for the first and second wine and the vintages on the labels are a bit off. Now if I’ll start writing about all the food we ate then this post will never finish – so I won’t. Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow I will post the 2nd edition of my “wine readings” feature. If you missed #1 then follow this link. Also thanks again to Vino in Love for allowing me to use his tasting notes.

2004 Grupo La Rioja Alta S.A. Vina Ardanza Reserva – Spain

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in the last few days. Once again I was out of town for work. One of the good things about these business trips is that we always eat well in fantastic restaurants. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t write a restaurant review blog! We tried a few great wines in the last days and my favorite was a Rioja DOC from Spanish winery Grupo La Rioja Alta S.A. – a very large cooperative that consists of five wineries.

The 2004 Vina Ardanza Reserva is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Granacha. The wine aged 36 months in small oak barrels (barriques). Cherry red color; 13.6% ABV. Very intense nose with tobacco, blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate, and coconut. On the palate medium to full-bodied. Well-balanced with strong tannins (maybe a bit too strong). Long finish with elegant aftertaste.

Almost a perfect Rioja. Only the tannins were too strong for my personal taste. Some of my colleagues said the tannins were just fine while others agreed with me. I guess you have to find out yourself! Let me know your thoughts on Vina Ardanza.

Wine Readings #1

Today I want to start something new here at Winetalks. Each week (probably every Thursday or so) I want to share with you a few posts, articles or wine reviews that I find worth reading. It simply would take way too much posts (and space) to reblog all of them so I plan to only reblog posts on rare occasions from now on. Since this blog is called Winetalks I want to talk with you about these topics. So feel free to comment on any or all of them. The categories won’t be the same every week. Depends on what I’ve red.

Wine recommendations of the week

wine fo the week

  1. VinItaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2013: The Full Story – Flora’s Table 

    Stefano has over 15 high-quality Italian wine recommendations for you. And that in just one article! Which one is your favorite?

  2. Three good-value wine recommendations – The Winegetter
    Oliver always impresses me with his good-value wine recommendations  All available for under $15. If you are looking for good and affordable wine then this is for you.

Event of the week

  1. Italian Wine Tales in Houston, TX.  – Gambero Rosso
    If you live in the Houston area then this event might be something for you. The Gambero Rosso is coming to Houston for the first time ever where they will offer two seminars. One about Italian sparkling wine and one about red wines from Tuscany.

Interesting read

  1. Wine in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Kawa & Vino
    I know this post is not from this week but I just found it recently. If you want to read about wines from Bosnia and Herzegovina then you will enjoy this read. I’ve never had wine from Bosnia. Have you?

Disappointment of the week


  1. E. & J. Gallo Winery and Constellation Brands named wineries of the year 2012 – Wine Searcher
    In my opinion this is a poor choice but it probably shows how poor the American wine market is. There are so many wineries that deserve the award much more than E. & J. Gallo. What do you think? Does E. & J. Gallo deserve this award?

Article of the week


  1. The History of the Super Tuscan Vino in Love
    Julian wrote an interesting article about the history of Super Tuscans. Straight to the point. Definitely worthreading, especially if you want to know more about Tuscan wines. His knowledge about Italian wine impresses me over and over again. What’s your opinion on Super Tuscans?  I personally never had one but yesterday I ordered a bottle of Tignanello! So exciting!